Home  »  Hamilton-based Weever scales their logistics software platform globally

Hamilton-based Weever scales their logistics software platform globally

Weever launched in 2011, offering custom services to help businesses convert their websites into mobile apps. However, Weever’s founders, Steve McBride, Andrew Holden and Rob Porter soon realized that providing custom services wasn’t scalable, leading to a pivot to the development of their now, industry-leading operations management software.

Weever has gone on to secure major clients like Unilever, Walmart and the Canadian Football League. However, the path to success wasn’t without its challenges. Key decisions and lessons shaped Weever’s evolution, with Innovation Factory playing a vital role from the beginning. 

Today, Weever serves clients worldwide while staying true to its Hamilton roots. How did it get there? Tune into the full podcast to learn more about Weever’s journey and the team’s keys to success.

Are you looking to scale your innovative idea, increase revenues or enter global markets? Start a conversation with Innovation Factory and let’s discuss how we can help you.

Podcast Transcript

0:01 This is the P O V Hamilton podcast where we’re sharing the Hamilton Ontario point of view from businesses and entrepreneurship to life sciences and education to arts, culture and media.

0:13 Hamilton is thriving and there are countless stories to be shared of the people, businesses and organizations making it happen.

0:20 Here’s whose point of view you’ll be listening to today.

0:25 Hi, I’m Steve McBride, the CEO of Weever.

0:28 So Weever is currently a software company that’s used in manufacturing.

0:35 That’s not how we started though.

0:36 We started our company in 2011.

0:38 It was a software that converts any website into a mobile app. So, you could just put just plug it in your website as a website developer and click a few boxes and it would automatically convert your website into a mobile app that could be used on phones and tablets.

0:56 And that is where the company began.

0:59 First, originators of the software were Rob Porter and Andrew Holden.

1:04 They were the developers and then I met them through Innovation Factory where we started to put the company together and and build up the company and we started with five of us.

1:15 There was myself and another investor and one employee plus Rob and Andrew.

1:21 And that’s how we started the company, five people.

1:23 And today there’s 28 people.

1:29 Back in 2011, the landscape of mobile devices was pretty limited.

1:35 Blackberries were for sure dominating things.

1:39 We produced apps for both iPhone and Blackberry at the time when we started the company and it was still back then, most mostly business.

1:51 Of course, there was social media.

1:53 We had feeds also in the apps for Facebook and Twitter.

1:58 Back in that time when it was Blackberry and IOS dominated the market.

2:03 There was also a little bit of Windows but not too many people had Windows, phones, a lot of our customers were for business and they would have their, you know, their business website on there.

2:14 Some even had their products on there.

2:17 You could even order products. This was before Shopify and all the cool stuff you can do today and buy products through websites.

2:26 But then a few years later, mobile responsive websites came out which really didn’t necessitate the need for a mobile app because your website could be scaled down to work on a phone or a tablet as well.

2:40 So that’s when we were pivoted and that’s when we started to get into manufacturing and our first customer was Unilever.

2:49 When we first started out, there wasn’t really any competition, nothing to what we had.

2:55 And our product was really unique and we actually got a patent for the product as well.

2:59 Even though tons of people told us we’d never have a chance to get a patent.

3:03 We did get a patent for our product.

3:06 So yeah, the landscape was pretty open for what we were selling.

3:09 The problem with our product was it was sold to website developers and website developers are super cheap.

3:17 They don’t want to pay for anything.

3:18 So we had tens of thousands of downloads on our free product.

3:23 and our paid product, we had very few.

3:28 So with our original product, the landscape of competition and the need by customers is different than with the new product.

3:38 So with the old product, it was more around converting websites to apps and a lot of our customers were marketing type customers.

3:48 So we did have some larger customers back then like London Life and Canada Life.

3:54 that was probably one of our larger customers.

3:57 And then we had like the CFL, Canadian Football League Players Association, and we had rock band Skid Row and some other larger, smaller medium customers.

4:10 all with kind of different used cases, but we found the biggest value that we were bringing to customers was collecting data.

4:17 So whenever we had a form in our mobile app that was getting the most usage, so then we decided to build a form builder tool that allowed our customers to build their own forms.

4:30 And that’s when things started to change with the company.

4:32 And that’s when we also started to pivot the company to be focused more on business and a product.

4:40 But in the beginning when we didn’t have a product, we had to build a lot of custom apps just to stay afloat, you know, make payroll and, and keep going to the next month.

4:50 So we were building all custom apps at the time.

4:53 We didn’t really have a product going back to when I started the company.

5:01 The job that I left was probably the best job I’ve ever had in my life.

5:05 I was making fantastic money.

5:07 It was super solid.

5:09 I had a great boss.

5:10 I made my own hours.

5:12 I traveled all over North America.

5:13 It was a great job, to make that transition to starting my own business.

5:19 I always had a business on the side.

5:21 So I wanted to start my own business and when I made the transition that I have doubt so, yes and no.

5:29 , for sure, I was worried about like how long it would take to make money.

5:35 And if I would have paychecks all the time.

5:37 But just from my past experience, I had so much confidence in myself that like I knew I just figure it out.

5:44 And even when, you know, we couldn’t make payroll some weeks and I had explained to employees that, hey, you know, can you wait an extra week or two weeks before you get paid?

5:54 And, you know, there was a lot of ups and downs where money came in and the money went out and then there was none left and all during that time, it was for sure, super tough and stressful.

6:05 And, but I always had this feeling like I’d figure it out and we always somehow did.

6:13 So I know there’s, you know, a lot of companies that just run out of time to figure it out, payroll is too big and there’s just not enough time to figure it out.

6:22 So be very careful on what your expenses are when you’re starting a company and don’t try and grow too fast.

6:29 Otherwise you’re gonna put a lot of stress on yourself and all the people working for you as well.

6:33 So, yeah, but I think that is really my answer to that is yes, I was super stressed, but I did always think that I would figure it out.

6:45 So as far as Innovation Factory, how they’ve supported us over the years and the challenges they’ve helped us with, we started with Innovation Factory really right in the beginning because they helped put the company together.

6:57 So originally I read an article in the spectator about Rob and Andrew and this technology they developed and then I contacted them, they put me in touch with Innovation Factory.

7:08 Innovation Factory helped put the deal together and put our company together.

7:12 So the original investment and, and put the company together as a corporation.

7:17 So really they were, you know, key to get the company started.

7:22 And then throughout the journey, you know, always there for introductions and, and advice on, you know, different things, even if it’s, you know, contracts and helping us get introduced to legal and bookkeepers and finance and so on.

7:38 So, you know, we started our company in July 2011 and two months later, we were in the LiONS Lair and we won the first LiONS Lair.

7:48 So from the winning of the first LiONS Lair, we, we won, our goals was one of them.

7:55 So we won funds with goals and we use those funds to pay for our patent.

8:01 And then we also won something with KPMG and they started to be our accountant.

8:06 And today, you know, 13 years later, KPMG is still our accountant and Gowling is still our, our lawyer.

8:14 So really key in making those connections right from the beginning.

8:18 And like I said, all along, you know, as you’re starting a company, you need all kinds of things which you never think of when you first start out like employment contracts for when you hire people.

8:31 So you know, where do we get an employment contract?

8:34 And you know, Innovation Factory helped us with that and how do we market our product?

8:38 We had help from Innovation Factory on that.

8:40 And just anything you can think of, if they didn’t have the resources to help us out directly, they could make an introduction to somebody that could help us.

8:52 So the LiONS Lair win in 2011, we, we submitted our case to the judges and back then it was a little bit different.

9:02 You actually presented to the judges live in front of the audience.

9:06 And after the presentations, there was an announcement of who the winners were.

9:13 And they started at third place and they announced a third place winner.

9:17 And then they announced the second place winner and I was at the table with my family and my team and just kind of, you know, shrugged my shoulders and said, well, we’re only a two month old company.

9:25 You know, I didn’t really expect that we, that we could win this.

9:29 So, you know, great job of everybody.

9:31 And then they announced the first place winner was Weever.

9:33 And I think my head hit the ceiling even though Carmen’s has a really high ceiling.

9:37 We were all jumping up and down.

9:39 I’m pretty excited that that we won the first LiONS Lair and all the things that came with it because it was about there was more than $50,000 for sure.

9:50 So that really helped us at the time of just starting the company.

9:54 So Yeah, it was pretty exciting time for us.

9:59 One word for Innovation Factory would be longevity.

10:03 And what I mean by that is they can help you right from when you just have an idea and you’re not even a company to figure out if that idea could be a business and then they can help you put your business together, make introductions.

10:17 I was just thinking back about investments and one of my investment meetings was in the Innovation Factory office.

10:26 Green Sky capital was in the building meeting for something else.

10:29 And Greg who’s the the CEO of Green Sky met with me and we went through the meeting and he said, OK, yeah, I like your pitch.

10:39 We’ll move on to the next step.

10:40 And I’m like, so what is the next step?

10:42 And like, what are my chances?

10:44 He’s like, well, we meet with last year, he said we met with 950 companies and we invested in 11 like, wow, that’s small odds.

10:53 And he says, yeah, but you’ve already met with me.

10:56 So now you’re, you know, you do, your odds are even better.

11:01 And I was like, ok, great.

11:03 So they ended up investing in us a few months after that actually.

11:06 So, but that was an Innovation office as well.

11:09 Another introduction from Dave Carter from Innovation Factory.

11:12 So all through the the business growth process, there’s something that Innovation Factory can help with.

11:20 And even today I still talk to Dave.

11:22 we still meet regular, talk about business and how he can help us, how I can help them.

11:28 And I recently did a series at IF on sales and this podcast and and some other events as well.

11:38 So it’s coming full circle now where I can also give back a little bit.

11:43 So that’s why I say longevity, there’s resources for all stages of the business.

11:50 So why is our company in Hamilton?

11:52 This could be an hour, two hour podcast if I tell you all the reasons.

11:57 But the, the main reason is I was born and bred in Hamilton.

12:02 In fact, I’m just planning our family reunion.

12:05 We not really a reunion but our anniversary, our family’s been in Hamilton next year for when the anni anniversary is gonna be, is gonna be 200 years.

12:15 So our family came to Hamilton in 1825 and we’ve been here ever since.

12:19 So we’ve got some pretty good history in the, in the city.

12:22 My great grandfather was a barber on King Street.

12:26 There used to be mcbride’s barber shop there back in early 19 hundreds.

12:31 My grandfather played for the Hamilton Tigers.

12:33 My father was a Canadian record holder in track and his three other teammates.

12:40 They ran the four by 400.

12:42 So, yeah.

12:42 Long family ties in the city.

12:45 I grew up on East Mountain.

12:46 , I really grew up on the escarpment, like up and down the escarpment all day long.

12:50 Me and my buddies down to Gage Park and back up and I know probably every trail in Hamilton for sure.

12:57 So, if anybody wants any advice on great hiking trails, I’m your guy for sure.

13:03 But, yeah, we, all of our employees are in Hamilton.

13:07 We’ve hired a few people, we don’t have, you know, developers in other countries and things like that.

13:11 Everybody is Hamilton based.

13:13 We do have a couple of employees, one’s in Niagara and a couple of people in Toronto, but otherwise everybody’s in Hamilton and I’m one employee in, in the UK.

13:20 So, it’s great to have people into the office.

13:23 You know, we’re a fully remote company now, but we do have every once in a while on Fridays, people just started coming into the office and it’s great.

13:33 Our office is downtown Hamilton on Houston Street.

13:36 So we can still all meet in the office and enjoy all the restaurants on James Street and, and go home for a beer after work and things like that.

13:42 But yeah, there’s no other option.

13:45 I had no interest in moving the company to Toronto or Waterloo or anything else.

13:49 So, how did the Hamilton ecosystem help us get to where we are now?

13:53 So I gotta make a call out for sure to software Hamilton.

13:57 Hamilton has helped us hire a lot of developers over the years.

14:02 So they have, they run great events in the city, Coder camp and ladies coding something.

14:09 I forget the name of it.

14:11 And several other ones and they’ve really helped us get not only developers but really great developers.

14:19 So that’s been a real, real help to Weever grow in Hamilton.

14:25 The other thing is when we post jobs, we always post them in Hamilton first because we would love to get people that live here, you know, so that we can hang out with them and, and build the team around Hamilton, which is great.

14:36 I mean, we did a around the bay biking tour one day, it was 42 kilometers.

14:43 We had a whole bunch of us get on our bikes and bike around the bay, started at the office and finished at the office.

14:49 We do a lot of things in Hamilton.

14:51 We do karaoke and paintball and all kinds of different stuff for team events.

14:55 So it’s great to hire people in the city.

14:58 So, the ecosystem is a lot better now too.

15:01 You know, when we first started, there wasn’t, there’s only a couple of software companies in Hamilton.

15:06 So today it’s, it’s really expanded and it’s been a really good ecosystem for us.

15:13 Current successes with the company.

15:15 We’ve grown, like I said, from five employees to 28 our customers are mostly very large customers that most people would recognize their names like Unilever and we supply all the Unilever sites.

15:29 They all use our software.

15:30 So, you know, making Dove soap, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, the Helman’s Mayonnaise.

15:36 you name it, they, they make so many products at Unilever.

15:39 So we support all of those products with our software and the factories that build them.

15:44 And then some other names that everybody would know would be like Mars Wrigley and Mars Pet Care.

15:49 So they make, you know, M and M’s and Skittles and on the pet food side, they make Iams and all kinds of like name brands that that everybody knows.

16:03 A lot of people don’t know that it’s Mars that makes it.

16:07 but huge, huge player in the pet food business.

16:11 They also have a food division so that’d be like your Ben’s original rice and things like that.

16:17 So, that’s another one of our, our large customers and hello fresh is another one that probably everybody knows.

16:24 they use us in their warehouses.

16:26 They have a lot of employees in their warehouses.

16:28 So they use us for all of their safety and quality checks there as well.

16:32 Another large customer is a and seating.

16:34 A lot of people won’t know that name but they’re formerly known as Johnson Controls.

16:38 They have the market share of automotive seating.

16:42 So chances are the seat in your car was made by, and they have 100 and 53 manufacturing sites globally.

16:49 So those are all Walmart’s another customer of ours too.

16:52 And the logistics in the warehousing.

16:54 Oh, and locally, woodland foods, ED Smith and Winona is one of their sites.

17:00 , that’s another one of our customers as well.

17:02 So the majority of our business is in the US and then we have clients also, our UK office is starting to really build.

17:11 So we have several customers in the UK, France, Australia, South Africa, all over the place, but majority of our customers are in the US.

17:21 And what our product does is it’s a software that’s used on the manufacturing floor by all the workers for safety checks, quality checks, maintenance, maintenance, work orders, continuous improvement.

17:33 Anybody familiar with leading manufacturing, we do a lot of like Kazan’s and Gambas and all kinds of things for continuous improvement.

17:44 Future goals, five or 10 years is a long time.

17:48 I likely won’t be here but over the next year or two, I mean, I’ll be on the planet, but I’m not gonna be a Weever goals over the next couple of years, I would say, continue to grow our team and our customer base.

18:02 Right now, we’re just building out our sales team, and our customer success team.

18:07 We’ve worked directly with our clients a lot to help them not only use our product but come up with new use cases as well.

18:14 So right now, we’re just venturing into AI and we have a new AI product that will be coming out this year.

18:22 Because we collect a, just a ton of data from our customers, millions and millions of points of data.

18:27 So using AI to help them make sense of all the data is gonna be a great feature for them to add on and then really just new client and continuing to grow.

18:36 So we our clients typically has have multiple sites.

18:40 So we typically get a new customer and we go into one site and then we’re successful there and we expand to their second site and the third site, et cetera.

18:47 So it’s our growth is very organic through our customers.

18:55 So how I measure success?

18:59 One is paying the bills for sure.

19:02 and making sure all the team is paid.

19:04 But the other way I measure success is our customers.

19:09 So having customers see value in our product and get value out of our product, like having them tell us that since implementing Weever on this one specific thing, they’ve saved 100 and $50,000.

19:23 Since implementing Weever on this one specific thing, they’ve gained $500,000 in production and productivity improvements.

19:31 They’ve reduced safety incidents, quality defects have gone down by astronomical percentages.

19:38 So hearing these numbers is really cool that your product did this.

19:44 But the biggest thing was when one of my customers, her name is Ingrid and she’s the, she was the plant manager at Mars Wrigley Ice Cream Facility.

19:55 I was there for my second visit and I was passing by in the hallway and she said, hey, Steve, I want to tell you something.

20:01 And I said, oh, what’s that, Ingrid?

20:02 She said, Weevers changed the way we run our business.

20:06 And I was like, whoa, like this is, you know, multibillion dollar company.

20:10 And I’m like, Ingrid, what do you mean by that?

20:12 That Weevers changed the way you, you run your business.

20:15 She said before, everything we did was reactive.

20:19 And now with Weever, I’m doing things proactive and everything is better.

20:24 I have better visibility.

20:26 I can see trends in things.

20:29 I know when something’s gonna happen before it happens and I can make adjustments faster as a manager.

20:34 So hearing things like that, that’s success to me when somebody says that your product has made that big of a difference like that did it for me.

20:43 I was that was one of the best things I heard that night, I went out and celebrated that night.

20:47 It wasn’t like a huge sale that I made or, you know, something monetary that happened to celebrate.

20:56 It was just like the big difference that we’re making our customers a couple of things that I’ve learned over the years, one for sure is get some mentors.

21:09 If you can have more than one mentor with different disciplines, that is the ultimate.

21:14 So if you can have like finance mentor, a legal mentor, a sales and marketing mentor, et cetera, that is great.

21:23 I’ve had people my entire career that I’ve been able to ask questions about and lean on for, hey, what do you think I should do here just to run ideas by because if you’re starting a company, you’re at the top, there’s nobody else really that can, that can help you unless it’s somebody that’s done it before.

21:43 So getting mentors is key to starting up a business, even today, I have joined a CEO group.

21:51 it’s called peer scale.

21:52 So it’s all about CEO’s asking each other questions and we have a slack channel and it happens all day long.

22:00 Somebody’s like, hey, wanna try a new pricing model.

22:03 Has everybody, do anybody ever done this before?

22:06 I’m having a legal problem with this.

22:08 Has anybody sold into the States into this particular state?

22:13 And how do the, how does the tax work?

22:14 Like there’s just, you’re always learning things and to have that support is just invaluable.

22:21 So that is one thing I would say.

22:23 The other thing I would say is when you’re starting on a company, you’ll get advice from a lot of different people I would really steer clear from advice from anybody that doesn’t wanna buy your product.

22:34 So if you’re, you have somebody that says, hey, you should add this feature or you should do this to your product.

22:42 If they’re not gonna pay you for it, then that advice isn’t as solid as somebody that is actually going to pay you for it.

22:50 So whenever you can get a customer to pay you for something,, that’s the road to go down.

22:56 So you wanna, you know, say you wanna run your brand new company and you just wanna run a pilot just to prove it out, do a paid pilot because if the customer doesn’t have skin in the game, it’s not gonna be the same, they’re not gonna pay attention to it as much.

23:10 It won’t matter to them as much.

23:12 It’s always good to, to get skin in the game for the customer.

23:15 So that’s, that’s something we learned early too.

23:17 You know, we had people that we thought could be customers, they gave us some advice and we built it and they’re like, nah, we don’t want it anymore or some reason why they didn’t want it.

23:27 So you always want to take advice from somebody that is willing to pay for your product.

23:33 Thanks for listening.

23:34 Make sure you’re subscribed.

23:35 So you never miss an episode and please consider rating and reviewing as it helps others to find the show for more information or to listen to past episodes, go to POV Hamilton dot com.

Innovation Factory

Innovation Factory is a business accelerator, dedicated to helping Ontario-based businesses launch, scale, and succeed. We provide start-ups, and scaling companies with advisory services, training, mentorship, and strategic connections to help bring disruptive technologies to market, leverage intellectual property, increase revenues, attract investment and create jobs. Serving as the catalyst for tech innovation in the greater Hamilton area since 2011 we are driven to help: Entrepreneurs bring new ideas to life and to market Small/Medium Enterprises (SMEs) get to the next level Hamilton build a dynamic culture and a community of innovation Innovation can happen anywhere. Our goal is to make it work everywhere. We work to elevate key industry sectors including, advanced manufacturing, clean tech, information technology, integrated mobility, life sciences & health care and social innovations.

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